Seeking The Essential

I have a life….and it has a purpose.

This statement is universally true.  So we go about our days pursuing our goals, seeking truth, growing in our understanding of the world, supporting family or friends, etc. and always pushing forward toward whatever it is we have identified as our purpose.  Right?

Sadly….the answer to that question is often “No, not really.”

Does it feel like life has thrown all kinds of obstacles on the path to pursuing your purpose?  Do you ever feel bogged down by processes and tasks that seem productive but don’t even begin to move the needle in any substantial way?

Are you thinking to yourself…”Ken, are you kidding me? Who has time for pursuing a dang ‘purpose’ for goodness sakes! Get real!”

First of all…quit yelling at me and calm down or I’ll give you ‘what for’….(I’ve never quite understood the meaning of ‘what for’….but that’s what you’ve got coming if you don’t calm down!)

I just glanced over at my iPhone and saw that I have 166 unread email messages.  I can almost guarantee that of those 166 unread messages…..somewhere around 150 of them, based on past experience, are related to things that will not move the needle even one inch in my business purpose.

A mentor recommended a book called “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown.  It’s a really good read that I highly recommend.  I’ve read it once and will read it again soon now that I have had a little time to process it.

In his book, Greg argues in favor of the disciplined pursuit of the essential.  One might say that is fairly intuitive wisdom.  It’s intuitive because the opposite would be the undisciplined pursuit of the non-essential.  In other words, wasting your time on unproductive pursuits…..and who would do that?

Well….me for starters as it turns out.  And I suspect YOU too….once you start to really think about it.

I have 166 unread emails to sort through tomorrow morning…..many will be of little or no value toward achieving my larger goals.  But lacking value does not mean lacking cost.  The cost is time…..time spent not focusing on those things that are essential to my purpose.  Time spent working through emails of little or no value is a great example of the “undisciplined pursuit of the non-essential”.

I’ll bet you have your own version of 166 valueless emails in your life.  In fact, I am sure of it.

So here’s the deal…in my opinion, this is a VERY big topic. It’s also a very important topic but I am committed to keeping these posts limited to 500-600 words.  I believe in the power of brevity.

So Essentialism, as a concept captured so well by Greg McKeown, is going to be a recurring area of exploration in this blog.

My hope for today is that you take a moment and identify a few areas of non-essential activity that costs you time but delivers little or no return on that investment.

…and if reading this blog is on your list of non-essential activity…..well, I’ll be giving you ‘what for’!!!

 

(Hey! Before you go, answer the new poll question!)

6 Replies to “Seeking The Essential”

  1. This book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown changed the way I make decisions on everything I agree to do! I love being challenged with doing less to accomplish more!!!

  2. My first thought about my daily non-essential items was LinkedIn. But, then I remembered that LinkedIn was how I found KenCatmull.com! Sounds like a great book. Looking back on my most successful winning streaks in my career (I call it being in the “Zone”) that is exactly how I was thinking…essential, or not essential? Or simply prioritizing. The key to success is to maintain that awareness and not get complacent. Otherwise those non essential items slowly creep back in.

  3. The biggest non-essential activity that costs me time but delivers little or no return on that investment is junk mail. I bet I spend more time on deleting or blocking more junk e-mail, phone messages or text’s than I care to reveal.

    Since my retirement, I tend to do only things that bring me pleasure, even if that is housework, reading or having lunch with my favorite people.

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